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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The End of Alice by A. M. Homes 
28th-May-2007 11:59 pm
Homes, A. M. The End of Alice. 1996. New York: Scribner, 1997.
          Summary: A middle-aged pedophile convicted of brutally murdering a 12-year-old girl named Alice begins correspondence with 19-year-old young woman who aspires to have intimate relations with an underaged boy named Matthew. Though the young woman turns out not to be a true "connoisseur" in the narrator's self-styled spirit, her presence in his life helps him liberate himself from a masochistic homosexual relationship with his cellmate Clayton and revives his recollection of Alice's end.
          Comments: Frankly sexual and written to shock from all possible angles, what interested me most were not the varieties of kinky sex or criminal transgression, but rather the deliberate way in which Homes defies reader expectations of her characters. For example, this is the first time I've ever read a novel about a teenaged FEMALE pedophile. Yet, more subtly, she offers up big surprises in the two main characters: Alice, seemingly a knowing, impish, Lolita-type character, ultimately panics naively when sees blood on the sheets from her first period, and the unnamed narrator, seemingly a brilliant, manipulative sexual predator of the highest order, is ultimately revealed to have acted out of fear and impulse, not plot. In short, no one is as in control as they seem--hell, not even the author writes with over-ebullient, adolescent prose--and nothing means much of anything.
          Notes: trade paperback, 8th printing
          Rating: 5/10 - This most post-modern of post-modern novels is trying just a bit too hard.
1st-Jun-2007 03:19 pm (UTC)
Ouch. I don't think I have the stomach to read something like this^^
1st-Jun-2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
Really? It's no worse than a CLAMP manga, honestly.
1st-Jun-2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
I don't really like the type of fiction that writes to shock people about sexual abuse. Particularly when it reads like an orgy of sexual kinks^^
1st-Jun-2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
I don't think she's trying to shock people with sexual abuse per se; rather, she's trying to shock people by defying their EXPECTATIONS with regards to her literary depiction of it.
1st-Jun-2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
I know. I just don't like sexual abuse as a focus of a work if it's not part of a character/plot's past or a constructive look at solving it/its effects. Don't mind me, it's a personal preference.
1st-Jun-2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
Clearly post-modernism in general doesn't appeal to you. ^_~

Though, to be honest, I think sexual abuse is fundamentally brutal, cruel, and meaningless. Ascribing meaning or using it as a "learning experience" of some sort at times seems outright belittling. Like blithely telling someone that suffering will only make them stronger.
1st-Jun-2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think so from your reviews and my reaction^_^

Not learning experience but maybe part of a person's past or something. I dislike when it's used as a shock factor, titillation, or even worse as an excuse for a person turning gay.
1st-Jun-2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
Actually, speaking of titillation, there was this really interesting moment in the novel where the narrator steps back and basically says, "Yeah, I know you've been jerking off to my story, and if these twisted scenes make you hot, then what does that make YOU?" Another post-modern moment. ^_^;

The overly knowing attitude kinda clashed with the adolescent-ish prose. There were places where I felt I was reading "good" fanfic.
1st-Jun-2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
I can forgive fanfic for being fanfic but not published authors whom I paid for XD
1st-Jun-2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
The novel does read like Homes is trying too hard.

The only part that shocked me (and frankly grossed me out) was the scab storing and eating. I'm not sure what that says about me.
1st-Jun-2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
How old is the boy Alice is trying to pursue a relationship with?
2nd-Jun-2007 12:56 am (UTC)
Twelve, I believe.
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